Rice for Paella

Rice Paella: History and Varieties.
Rice museum in Valencia city.
                   Outbuilding and general overview of museum. Rosario st. Valencia city, Spain.
    Phases of the  finished rice
                                                       Old rice machine. 19th century


The rice together with the bread and its derivatives constitutes one of the main food of the world. It is possible to say that its consumption is present in all the countries, even it is spreading over the whole Africa. Its importance as food base to eliminate hunger is enormous. Thousands of million persons eat it to satisfy 75 % of its energy expenses. But not only it has a major food importance but also forms a cultural union in the peoples. 

Clear examples of it, it is ¨the Cuban rice¨, natived from Latin America, the rissotto of Italy or of course the Valencian paella in Spain. In my country the cultivation is very widespread being along with Italy the biggest producer of Europe. The large-scale sowings need of flat surfaces, plenty of water where the sun and moisture are inserted. With these requests they have been cultivated in all the lagoons, wetlands, deltas etc. 

Examples in Spain, there are in Calasparra, Murcia, the Pego wetlands in Alicante, the Doñana wetlands in Huelva, the Delta of the Ebro in Tarragona or the Lagoon in Valencia.

As lover and defender of the rural and natural environment, I believe that the rice contributes in its measurement a very important quantity of preservation of both the places. Not only it gives us wonderful cooking plates, but it preserves and promotes the natural environments where it is cultivated. There tens species feed; birds, fish, rodents. The fields remain plunged for weeks and allow the development and insects growth, worms or crustaceans.

The cultivation.
The rice can be cultivated up to 4 different ways:
Flooded cultivation. They are those that are realized with the immersed plant inside the water. Plantation in growth phase and to hand. Later it dries up. A clear example of this type of cultivation is found by us in the Lagoon of Valencia.
Cultivation in deep waters. Places in the distant East. The sowing is with merry seeds.
Irrigation cultivation. It is realized by means of flood or artificial irrigation. Pregerminated seeds. Light aircrafts are used for the plantation. North America, Australia.
Dry land cultivation. Inundable areas that once the waters withdraw is produced the sowing. Brazil, India or Africa.

The majority they come from two species, the asiatic Oriza Sativa and the african Oriza Glaberrima. The Asian spice has given place to the Indian one. Rice of longer grain up to 5,5 mm. It cooks earlier, absorbs little broth and it is slightly glutinous. The species japanica cultivated in Europe. Shorter, rounded grain and with major broth absorption.

Types of Rice.
Wild rice. It does not belong to the species oriza, but to another aquatic species. It is cultivated in the United States and Canada. During the cooking it stays entire. It has a dark colour and it usually mix with other types of rice.
Bomba rice. The best rice for cooking Paella.
Bomba Santo Tomas                                                            Bomba Calasparra
 Its name comes, of this quality that it possesses when it is overcooked. This rice neither breaks nor is opened, but it bulges. Of small, short and rounded grain. It belongs to the variety japonica. Its size increases greatly after stew, up to two times. Its qualities and virtues are multiple; excellent absorption of rice, very good consistency of the  grain. On having served in the plate, its grains remain entire and free. High resistance to the pasted one. The factors, already it named, they change according to the times of cooking, the quantities and the type of water. The rice bomba at least needs for every part of rice 2 or 2,5 of broth and a major cooking time.

We recommend this variety for the Valencian paella. It is cultivated Europe and inside it in Spain, in the Valencian region, murcia and Tarragona. They possess origin denomination Valencia, Murcia and of the Ebro.

Basmati rice.It comes from the India and Pakistan. Of thin and long grain. High price but exquisite. Special, intense and perfumed flavour.
Brown rice. Rice that has been removed the cover external from it. It preserves most of the nutrients and vitamins. It needs a long time for cooking. It is necessary to remember that this class of rice starts cooking with cold water.
Rice vaporizado. Is the name of the process of milled prior to peeling, is subjected to a pressurized water bath temperature of about 90 ºC. This warming does that the external covering or husk release the nutrients and vitamins that the grain is absorbing. The grinding and polishing is the final end. Difficult that once it is cooked it remains pasted. It needs a long time cooking. It absorbs less flavours that release the broths as the paella.

Other rices. Very interesting varieties in our country are the varieties of Senia, Lagoon of Valencia: humid rice in its interior and in its surface. It is a grain recommended for plates of watery or sweet rice. The second variety is a Bahia, of the area of the Delta of the Ebro. Of slow cooking that allows join all the flavours. Round grain. Both are very recommended for cooking Paella.

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